SERKAN DEMIRTAS – HURRIYET – 27.9.2012 – Journalists, diplomats, politicians and all who are interested in the domestic politics of Turkey will be all ears to what Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül will say on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 in their consecutive speeches. Erdoğan will deliver his speech at the fourth general convention of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Sept. 30 and Gül will make the official opening of Parliament just a day after.
Erdoğan, who canceled his trip to New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly just to get more prepared for the event, places significant importance on the AKP’s convention in which he will run for the leadership for the last time. For many AKP officials, this convention will draw the political vision of the party for its 2023 targets. However, Erdoğan will also respond to current political problems, particularly the Kurdish issue and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorism. Likewise, President Gül’s team is also working on the speech he will make in Parliament as the head of the nation. It’s no secret that President Gül and Erdoğan are no longer on good terms especially over the Syrian policy and Kurdish issue. Gül will surely wait to listen to Erdoğan’s address before making the final touches on his own text.
Furthermore, the two events will obviously kick off a new political season in Turkey after a hot summer encircled with bloody terror attacks which caused a further increase in the political tension between all political parties. The tone Erdoğan will use in his statement, seen to be a serious political manifesto, will be a decisive one in envisaging the government’s future steps with regard to the Kurdish question and as well as to the terror problem.
Recent statements by deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç and Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin which did not rule out resumption of secret talks with the PKK or its imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan could be seen as an important indicator. Likewise, Zübeyir Aydar, a senior PKK member, gave a green light for unconditional talks with the government in a recent interview with BBC Turkish.
Under fierce criticism over its Syria policy, which also left Turkey isolated by its Western allies and cornered by the PKK-led terrorist campaign, the government would perhaps adopt a more conciliatory policy with regard to the Kurdish question in this new era. That’s why Erdoğan’s statement will be a very important one. And furthermore using language rejecting Kurds’ demands for more rights and freedoms would be bizarre for Erdoğan, who invited almost all the leaders of the Arab Spring countries and symbolic figures of the Arab movement. Egyptian, Tunisian and Libyan politicians as well as officials from other regional countries would be really surprised if Erdoğan would do the opposite he advises Bashar al-Assad or other tyrannical leaders in the region.